What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in an intimate relationship when one person tries to gain or maintain power and control over the other person.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. While women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused-especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well.
Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical.
Many people who are being abused do not see themselves as victims. Also, abusers do not see themselves as being abusive. People often think of domestic violence as physical violence, such as hitting It doesn’t have to be physical to be abuse. However, domestic violence takes other forms, such as psychological, emotional, or sexual abuse. It can happen all the time or once in a while.
Abuse is NOT A ONE TIME EVENT.
NO ONE SHOULD LIVE IN FEAR OF THE PERSON THEY LOVE
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is the first step to ending it
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.
Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
- Embarrass you with put-downs?
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
- Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
- Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
- Take your money, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
- Make all of the decisions?
- Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
- Prevent you from working or attending school?
- Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?
- Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
- Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?
- Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
- Threaten to commit suicide?
- Threaten to kill you, or your children?
If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.
It’s a bigger problem than you think
When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture battered women who have been physically assaulted. But not all abusive relationships involve violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked—even by the person being abused.
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Understanding emotional abuse
The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.
Abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.
You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so.
- Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
- Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
- Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
- Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
- Punishes you by withholding affection.
- Expects you to ask permission.
- Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
- Humiliates you in any way.
- Threatens to commit suicide if you leave.
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Economic or financial abuse
A subtle form of emotional abuse.
- Rigidly controlling your finances.
- Withholding money or credit cards.
- Making you account for every penny you spend.
- Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
- Restricting you to an allowance.
- Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
- Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly).
- Stealing from you or taking your money.
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- Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
- Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
- Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
- Scared you by driving recklessly.
- Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
- Forced you to leave your home.
- Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving.
- Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
- Hurt your children.
- Used physical force in sexual situations.
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is a form of physical abuse
- Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
- Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
- Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
- Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
- Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
- Held you down during sex.
- Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
- Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
- Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
- Ignored your feelings regarding sex.
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions you may be in an abusive relationship; please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or your local domestic violence center to talk with someone about it.
If you are being abused, REMEMBER
You are NOT Alone
It is Not Your Fault
Help Is Available
General Warning Signs of Intimate Partner Abuse
It’s impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs and symptoms of emotional abuse and domestic violence. If you witness any warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously.
People who are being abused may:
- Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner.
- Go along with everything their partner says and does.
- Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing.
- Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
- Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness.
Warning signs of physical violence
People who are being physically abused may:
- Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
- Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.
- Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors).
Warning signs of isolation
People who are being isolated by their abuser may:
- Be restricted from seeing family and friends.
- Rarely go out in public without their partner.
- Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car.
The psychological warning signs of abuse
People who are being abused may:
- Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.
- Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
- Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
Speak Up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
Violent and abusive behavior is the abuser’s choice
Abusers are not easy to spot. There is no ‘typical’ abuser. In public, they may appear friendly and loving to their partner and family. They often only abuse behind closed doors. They also try to hide the abuse by causing injuries that can be hidden and do not need a doctor.
Abuse is not an accident. It does not happen because someone was stressed-out, drinking, or using drugs. Abuse is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other. Abusers have learned to abuse so that they can get what they want.
Abusers often have low self-esteem. They do not take responsibility for their actions. They may even blame the victim for causing the violence. In most cases, men abuse female victims. It is important to remember that women can also be abusers and men can be victims.
Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.
Abusers are able to control their behavior—they do it all the time
- Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.
- Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior. They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you’re alone.
- Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abusers are not out of control. In fact, they’re able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it’s to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls).
- Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won’t show. Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks won’t show.
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The cycle of violence in domestic abuse
Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:
- Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.”
- Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior.
- Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he or she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
- “Normal” behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.
- Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
- Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.
Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.
The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example
A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” What he does not say is, “Because I might get caught.” He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her “If you weren’t such a worthless whore I wouldn’t have to hit you.” He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because “you’re having an affair with the store clerk.” He has just set her up.
Source: Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service
Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.
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Teen Dating Abuse
Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.
One in five tweens – age 11 to 14 – say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused. Two in five of the youngest tweens, ages 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships.
Teen victims of physical dating violence are more likely than their non-abused peers to smoke, use drugs, engage in unhealthy diet behaviors (taking diet pills or laxatives and vomiting to lose weight), engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide.
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Warning Signs of Abuse
Because relationships exist on a spectrum, it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or even abusive. Use these warning signs of abuse to see if your relationship is going in the wrong direction:
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly putting you down
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Explosive temper
- Isolating you from family or friends
- Making false accusations
- Mood swings
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Telling you what to do
- Repeatedly pressuring you to have sex
Relationships exist on a spectrum, from healthy to unhealthy to abusive — and everywhere in between. It can be hard to determine where your relationship falls, especially if you haven’t dated a lot. Explore this section to learn the basics of dating, healthy relationships and drawing the line before abuse starts.
Is My Relationship Healthy?
Texting and Sexting
Next to talking one-on-one, texting is currently one of the most instant forms of communication. While texting might be the perfect platform to say a quick “hi,” there are some things to watch out for in a textual relationship with your partner.
One in five teen girls and one in ten younger teen girls (age 13 to 16) have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves. Even more teen girls, 37 percent, have sent or posted sexually suggestive text, email or IM (instant messages). (The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com.Sex and Tech: Results from a Survey of Teens and Young Adults, 2008.)
Texting Too Much
If your partner texts too much, it’s not only irritating, but unnecessary. Read more…
Should We Break Up?
If you’re in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, figuring out the next step can be very difficult. read more…
Dating abuse is more than just arguing or fighting.
Teen dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence. Abusive relationships have good times and bad times. Part of what makes dating violence so confusing and painful is that there is love mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to tell if you are really being abused. The Healthy Relationship Wheel/Equality Wheel will help you understand relationships better.
Unfortunately, without help, the violence will only get worse. If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, please call the National Dating Abuse Helpline- 866-331-9474 to talk with someone about it. You can also call the Helpline for more information about dating violence or other resources for teens.
Help Your Child
Knowing that your son or daughter is in an unhealthy relationship can be both frustrating and frightening. But as a parent, you’re critical in helping your child develop healthy relationships and can provide life-saving support if they’re in an abusive relationship. Remember, dating violence occurs in both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and either gender can be abusive.
- Tell your child you’re concerned for their safety. Point out that what’s happening isn’t “normal.” Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. Offer to connect your son or daughter with a professional, like a counselor or attorney, who they can talk to confidentially. read more…
Research shows that 98 percent of teenage girls who have been abused continue to date the abuser. Your teen could be one of them.
If you suspect your daughter/son is in an abusive relationship, go through the following checklist of warning signs:
- Does your son or daughter apologize for their partner’s behavior and make excuses for them?
- Is she/he losing interest in activities that they used to enjoy?
- Has she/he stopped seeing friends and family members and become more isolated?
- When your child and partner are together, does he/she call her/him names and put he/himr down in front of other people? Does she/he seem intimidated by him?
- Does your child’s partner act extremely jealous of others who pay attention to her/him, especially other guys/girls?
- Does your child’s partner think or tell your daughter/son that you don’t like them?
- Does your child’s partner control her/his behavior, check up on them constantly, and call and text them, demanding to know who she/he has been with? Does your child’s partner control where she/he goes, what she/he wears and who she/he sees?
- Does she/he casually mention their partner’s violent behavior, but laugh it off as a joke?
- Does your child often have unexplained injuries or offer explanations that don’t make sense?
- Have you seen your child’s partner violently lose his/her temper, striking or breaking objects or destroyed his/her property?
- Does your child’s partner criticize her /his parenting and threaten to take away or hurt her/his children?
- Has your child’ partner threatened her life?
- Does your child’s partner email or text excessively?
- Do you notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious?
- Does your child’s partner abuse other people or animals?
- Does your child dress differently?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, your daughter/son may be in an abusive relationship.
For support and more information please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or at TTY 1-800-787-3224.
14 Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Study, Teenage Research Unlimited for Liz Claiborne Inc. and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. February 2008. Available at >http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/pdf/Tween%20Dating%20Abuse%20Full%20Report.pdf. 15 Silverman, J, Raj A, et al. 2001. Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality. JAMA. 286:572-579. Available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/286/5/572.
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Stalking is a serious crime that affects 1 out of every 12 women and 1 out of every 45 men during their lifetime. In most cases the stalker isn’t a stranger. The stalker may be a current or former intimate partner, a friend, customer, coworker, or an acquaintance. 77% of female victims and 64% of male victims know their stalkers.
What is stalking?
Stalking is generally defined as any unwanted contact that communicates a threat or places the victim in fear.
Stalkers are often obsessed with their victims. A stalker may monitor a victim’s actions including her/his whereabouts, conversations with other people, and internet and email usage. The stalker’s motivation typically is to gain and maintain control over the victim. Some individuals may use stalking as a way to try to re-establish a former intimate relationship or to feel connected to a person with whom they do not and/or cannot have a relationship.
What counts as stalking?
Stalking behavior and conduct can range from very subtle behavior to extreme and outrageous acts that might sound unbelievable to those less familiar with stalking. A stalker might engage in only one form of stalking behavior while another might engage in a wide variety of different and unpredictable stalking activities.
Celebrity stalking, while very serious, accounts for a small percentage of all stalking cases. Most stalking cases are in the context of domestic violence – the victim is living in fear of someone they once loved and trusted in an intimate partner relationship.
A stalker’s behavior might include:
- Waiting outside of a home or workplace
- Making harassing or persistent phone calls
- Sending letters or emails
- Sending unwanted gifts or flowers
- Contacting, threatening, or harassing friends and family
- Hurting or killing pets
- Vandalizing property
- Manipulative behavior, for example, threatening suicide in order to force contact
- Spreading lies about a victim, for example, filing false reports, posting or distributing personal or false information
- Collecting information about the victim’s personal life and habits
- Subscribing to services in the victim’s name
- Interfering with utilities or services, for example, having phone service disconnected
- Impersonating the victim or family member
- Accessing personal information through computer files or email accounts
Stalking: Myths and Facts
MYTH: You can’t be stalked by someone you’re dating.
FACT: If your “friend” tracks your every move in a way that causes you fear, that is stalking.
MYTH: If you ignore stalking, it will go away.
FACT: Stalkers seldom “just stop”. Victims should help from law enforcement to stop the stalking.
MYTH: If you confront the stalker, he or she will go away.
FACT: Confronting or trying to reason with a stalker can be dangerous. Get Help.
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Stalking is a Crime
Legal definitions of stalking vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, there are 2 laws that address stalking behavior and patterns. Read more…
IT’S NOT A JOKE
IT’S NOT ROMANTIC
IT’S NOT OK
IT’S A CRIME
For more information on stalking visit:
National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center
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On September 25, 2007, CAEPV, Liz Claiborne and Safe Horizon released a groundbreaking survey on corporate executives and employee awareness of the impact of domestic violence in the workplace.
Surprisingly, the survey shows that a significant majority of corporate executives and their employees from the nation’s largest companies recognize the harmful and extensive impact of domestic violence in the workplace, yet only 13% of corporate executives think their companies should address the problem.
The attitudes of executives differ dramatically from an overwhelming majority of employees (84%) who believe that corporations should be a part of the solution to addressing domestic violence.
Although nearly 2 in 3 corporate executives (63%) say that domestic violence is a major problem in our society and 55% cite its harmful impact on productivity in their companies, a majority of top executives have blinders on when it comes to seeing the reality of domestic violence victims working in their own companies.
(Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, September 2007)
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How to Help a Coworker Who Is Experiencing Abuse
Approximately 74% of employed domestic violence victims are contacted or harassed by their abusers while they are at work. Based on this statistic alone, it is possible that during your professional career, you may encounter a coworker (http://www.workplacesrespond.org/ )who is experiencing domestic violence.
If someone is experiencing abuse at home, the effects of the abuse are likely to carry over into the work environment as well. You may notice changes in their behavior at work that could indicate that something is wrong. For instance:
- Excessive lateness or unexplained absences
- Frequent use of ‘sick time’
- Unexplained injuries or bruising
- Changes in appearance
- Lack of concentration/often preoccupied
- Disruptive phone calls or personal visits from their partner
- Drops in productivity
- Sensitivity about home life or hints of trouble at home
Follow your instinct, and if you feel like you should talk to them about what might be going on, do so. The worst that could happen is that they don’t want to talk – and even then, they at least know that you care. There’s no harm in asking. Work may be the one place where they can talk to someone safely without the abusive partner finding out. Also, your coworker may believe that you are more objective to their situation than family and close friends.
Be sure to approach them in a confidential manner, at a time and place without interruptions. When approaching the topic of domestic violence with your coworker, remember to be nonjudgmental. They may be embarrassed by the situation, and you might be the first person they are telling. Consider starting with a simple comment and question like, “You seem a bit preoccupied/stressed. Do you want to talk about it?” Give them the space to share what they want to share with you. Don’t pressure them.
If your coworker does open up to you about the abuse, listen and refer. Your role is not to fix the problem for them – sometimes, listening can be the most helpful. You might want to pass along some information to them. If it feels appropriate, pass on the number of the Hotline. We can help your coworker safety plan around their current situation and can refer them to local service providers.
If your coworker gives you permission, you can help them document the instances of domestic violence in their life. Take pictures of injuries, write down exact transcripts of interactions, make notes on a calendar of the dates that things happen. Documenting the abuse might help the victim to obtain legal aid later on.
If your coworker has been open with you about their situation, you can help them learn about their rights. Women’s Law is an excellent resource for information on domestic violence laws and procedures. Browsing this website with your coworker or giving them the link can provide them with crucial information.
Introduce them to the security guard, or volunteer to meet the security guard with them if they’d like help. Keeping the security guard at the office in the loop can help deter your coworker’s abuser from stopping by, make sure your coworker is escorted safely to and from the office space, and more.
Ask if they’d like to create a safety plan for their work environment. Ask what they would like you to do if their partner should call or stop by the office. If you’re having trouble coming up with a safety plan on your own, call The Hotline for assistance.
Above all remember that just supporting your coworker no matter what can make a difference. Respect their decisions – you may not know all of the factors involved. Your coworker may not do what you want or expect them to do. Instead of focusing on being the one to solve the problem for them, focus on being supportive and trustworthy in their time of need.
http://www.caepv.org/ (corporate alliance to end partner violence)
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